Monday, April 26, 2010

An Unlikely Opportunity

This post is going to make some people a little uncomfortable, but I hope you get something out of it in spite of that.

On Friday night a friend of mine invited me out to bar hop with one of his coworkers. At first I declined saying that I needed to be careful with money and wanted to steer clear of temptation. But not long after hanging up the phone, I just gave into the fact that it was a Friday night and I didn't have anywhere to be the next morning. So I called him back and agreed to go. While I was getting ready to leave I made the decision before hand that I would be cautious and ever mindful of what I was drinking and how much I was drinking. I wanted set up mental boundaries that quite often work for me when faced with a difficult situation that I am aware of before hand.

We went to one place and it was relatively empty, but the music was good, then we went to a second place that had the reputation of being very foreigner friendly so we sat down ordered some drinks and just chatted and ate peanuts. It was rather warm in there which is usual because Koreans hate to be cold, so if it is even slightly cool outside it will usually be warm inside. I had a shirt on that was racer back, which means the shoulders are bare, and a sweater. I shed the sweater and was more comfortable, but we still moved our group over to a table near a window. As I sat there talking to my friends the guy at the table next to me leaned over and asked if the tattoo on my right shoulder was a Bible verse. I confirmed that it was and quoted it for him when he asked what it read. For the next 20 minutes this man, whom I assume was an American in his late 20's early 30's, tried his best to convince me that Christianity is just brain washing and that God is evil, and that he can't possibly love people when there is so much suffering in the world. He asked me so many questions about why I believe what I believe and I did my best to answer. He asked me if God loved people why there were so many people starving. The only answer I could think to give him was because of me. He looked at me very puzzled so I proceeded to elaborate upon my statement. I told him that I was the reason people are starving. Because if I loved them, I would feed them. His response was a mere roll of the eyes. He then asked me about the Crusades and the Catholic Church's recent outbreak of child molestation cases. I tried to explain that these things break the heart of God and that even though it may seem like they are in the name of God, that he despises it and will bring justice. He told me that the only reason I am a Christian was because of where I was raised, had I been born in the Middle East I would be Muslim. I told him he was probably right and that I was exceedingly grateful for that fact. He asked me to explain cancer to which I couldn't give a reason, but that with all of my being I believe and speak and live the truth that God is love. I told him that I do screw up and that my mistakes have negative consequences on many more people besides myself. And that being a Christian doesn't mean I claim to understand the reasons behind everything God does and allows. I wish I could say that the conversation ended with him understanding Jesus better. But I think this conversation taught me so much more than it taught him.

After reflecting on the conversation of that night I have realized that there is unparalleled value to the education I received from a biblically-centered college. During my years at TFC I learned not only the truths about God's Word, but an effective manner in which to present those truths. I was put into positions in my classes that taught me to think about my answers to questions like, "If God is love, why is there suffering?" or "Where is the proof that God exists?". I even participated in a panel that put 3 believers against 3 people pretending to be unbelievers in a mock philosophical debate. I am eternally grateful for the experiences and understandings I gleaned from my classes, relationships and studies at Toccoa Falls College. I also realized after some pondering that had I drank, "one too many" I would have been completely ineffective for Christ, and perhaps worsened this man's view of Christianity, if that was even possible. Instead, I cautiously choose to accept the invitation, and strictly monitored my alcohol intake and because of this I was able to have this difficult conversation with a clear mind.

Please don't take this experience to mean that I am now an avid promoter of bar evangelization, but do understand that I am an avid promoter of moderation and thoughtful behavior. I am thankful for the unexpected conversation that was had because I chose to go out with the contingency of sobriety. I look forward to more opportunities the Lord gives me to speak His truth to a lost world.

Please pray for Casey that the Word of God would not return void, but that a seed would be planted in His mind. I could tell he had been burned by Christians before and was frustrated. Pray that the Spirit would move powerfully in this man's heart and that he would have no other explanation than Jesus.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Lesson on the Lord

I'm so excited to blog about this... Every Tuesday and Thursday evenings for about an hour I tutor one of my coworkers in English. She is the same co worker that the Lord allowed me to speak to a little about my relationship with Him a couple weeks ago. I had been reading my Bible in Isaiah while waiting for her to get off the phone with a parent. She finished her conversation and told me she would be back in a minute. When she returned she laid down the textbook we had been using in our lessons, took a seat and said to me, "before we start, I'd like to listen to you tell me about your relationship with God." I was floored. A huge smile appeared on my face and I was so overcome with excitement I didn't even know where to begin. I quickly composed myself and told her my testimony. Then I told her about how the Lord brought me to Korea and how certain I am that I am supposed to be here. She listened so intently. I showed her the Scripture the Lord gave me regarding Korea and explained what it meant to me. I then told her about a Skype Bible Study I do with my sister and friend on Thursday mornings and showed her 1 John and told her a little about what we had been talking about in our study and why it is important to study the Bible. She was so interested so I continued and told her about how I can't imagine my life without Jesus, and the hope and joy I have because of His sacrifice and love. I told her that I want to share Him with other people and explain to them that we are all sinners and that Christ was perfect and that He died for our sins, but then he rose from the dead and is alive. And that when we believe in Him we become Christians and are able to have a relationship with God. We covered so much in our conversation. We talked about love and I showed her 1 Corinthians 13, and we talked about Jesus's teachings and we looked at the Sermon on the Mount. Then I asked her some questions about where she was in her life. And she told me some stories about going to church a little as a child, and how she's met people who live for Jesus, and that she wants to be that way. She said she does have a Bible, but isn't consistent in reading it, and I just encouraged her to pray that God would give her the desire to. Sometime later I looked at the clock and we had been talking for the entire hour. It was so awesome. As we were packing up I told her that I would be praying for her, and she seemed so appreciative of that. Then she said to me, "when I look in your eyes, I see God." I nearly burst into tears. I couldn't believe that the sin that had been plaguing me for so long was now over and that when someone saw me, they saw Jesus. I felt so humbled in that moment. I was so thankful the Lord would use me. Beautiful is the only word I know to describe our conversation. She is searching and I see the Spirit stirring in her. I'm excited for more conversations and I told her that I am very open to questions and conversations.

Her name is Anny (pronounced Annie) she is 29 years old and single. She very soft spoken and calm. I can tell she really wants the Lord. Pray that she would be consistent in her pursuit of Truth and that the Lord would use any means necessary to capture her heart.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kids are kids

I've been able to go to Seoul every weekend since I've been here. Every Saturday I visit Myeong Jin which is the orphanage I volunteer at. This past weekend we were dying Easter eggs and the kids were decorating them. During the fun one of the youngest boys, Tae Han started pitching a fit. After a little observation I realized he was upset because someone had the crayon he wanted to use. I laughed a little and said to a friend, I love that kids are kids no matter where you go. Any 4 year old would have a tantrum if they wanted something and couldn't have it immediately. I think this is one reason I love working with children. While the language may be different, the behaviors are roughly the same.

I want to also tell you a little about my school in this post. For the most part things are very similar to my experience teaching last year. One thing that is different though is that I have a couple classes that last 50 minutes but most of them last 25. Which means I have a lot of classes to teach in one day. I don't mind it because it makes the day go by quicker, but it's slightly frustating because I feel like I don't have enough time to really concentrate on the lesson and I've been struggling to learn all of the kids names. But it works out somehow.

Slightly ammusing stories... they aren't quite funny status.

I've always known my handwriting isn't the greatest, but to the average native English speaker there is no trouble reading it. However, when I write in a thick tipped marker on the white board and there are students learning to read English, there is all kinds of confusion. I wrote the number 50 on the board and my students were confused asking me, "Teacher, what is so?" I was like, "huh?" Then I realized my 5 was actually an S. Also, my "h" looks more like an "n" and one poor girl didn't even recognize my "r". I took a handwriting class in college when I was an Early Childhood Education Major, but evidently it didn't stick. One other bit of confusion happened when I was explaining emoticons. I was asking the students if they text messaged, all of them of course do. Then I asked them if they ever used the smiley faces, and again, yes. I then drew a smiley on the board and told them this was an emoticon when used in texting, or on the computer. I wanted to give them examples of other emoticons and so I drew what I thought was an angry face. Almost immediately one of the boys shouted, "Handicapped!" I lost it, I didn't know why he thought my drawing looked handicapped, but the other students joined in and said "yes, handicapped." After I composed my self, I tried to explain to them it was an angry face, but they wouldn't have it. I think they were encouraging me to stick to teaching, because drawing is not my strong suit.

Anyway, please pray that I would keep studying Korean consistantly and diligently. I bought a beginner's textbook and workbook, and so I'm trying to learn on my own, with help from my co-teachers when needed.